They call me 102 around here


When I arrived unexpectedly at Josie’s nursing home this morning, and knocked at her half-closed door, I heard this: “Oh Meika! My pastor got a real charge out of that book of yours!” She chuckled to herself, repeating his comments, ‘That’s my Josie, smart-ass Josie.'”

Yes, that’s Josie, the tell-it-like-it-is former railroad worker I profiled in Aging Our Way. In May she turned 102 years of age, and now folks refer to her as 102. That’s because there’s one that’s 105 not far away.

As we talked, it became clear that many things are still true about Josie:

1) She still complains about her family. She didn’t marry or have children, so she’s stuck with mostly nephews who never quite follow through the way she’d like.

“They always have phones hanging from their noses, but do they take the time to call? Not even for a minute. That’s all it takes is one quick call a week! But I don’t hear from them.”

2) Friends are Josie’s family, and she has a LOT of them, including the aides at the nursing home, who take her gambling every year for her birthday, and the children of old friends, who check up on her regularly, and pastors and deacons, and the ladies of the local women’s club.

“I would have found a gun by now if not for my friends. Friends have been my reason for living. And I count you as one of them.”

3) She has an amazing memory, and the “stuff” of her past is important to her, including the house she wishes she didn’t sell, a topic I discussed in an earlier post. 

“I used to sit on my grandmother’s lap in her rocking chair and listen to those little records in the old phonograph. Someone threw that amazing machine into the trash, darn it. It was so special to me.”

When I left mid-morning, Josie was ready for her morning routine. She had soap and warm water ready, to wash her “face, busoms, and private parts.” Then she’ll take a walk, with her walker. And she’ll eat what they give her, although she really hates squash.

There it is: the picture of longevity. And she still has a lot to say, that tough-talkin’ 102.

Thanks for making my day, Josie. I’ll be back to visit soon.

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Meika Loe

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